“On Contemplating a Second Child,” by Jennifer Case, appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR. The winter my husband and I debate whether or not to have a second child, I am a new faculty member at a state university. The job is a good one— the promising start of a long and hopefully rewarding career—and …
From the Print Journal
Clarissa had a deal for a one-time transaction with the Kitty Cup Ranch outside of Virginia City, Nevada, twenty-six hundred miles away from her home in Maryland. In recent months she and Bitsy, the ranch owners, and the ranch’s legal team had been drawing up the contract. If all went well, Clarissa would choose a man from among the highest bidders and complete the auction by mid-August, before she started college.
Every night, I built a blind in the field from heaped tires, shot pheasants from there. I’d found the rifle at the abandoned shooting range. It was an air gun, fired pellets with hollow points that left holes the shape of keyholes in the targets. So far I had killed two pheasants and, accidentally, one squirrel. I had never seen another person. Squatters occupied the other abandoned warehouses, but squatters avoided the warehouse in the field.
When you cross the border into our state, whether on the highway or arriving in an airport, the first thing you see is a sign proclaiming that you have entered something called “Pure Michigan.” As an advertising slogan, this has always struck me as bizarre. For one thing, purity is not a high value of mine; there seems something vaguely Nazi-ish about it to my jaundiced Jewish eyes.
Once, on the bus in seventh grade, she’d grabbed my contest-winning self-portrait and held it out the window while we drove down Fountain Street. Kids laughed. I grabbed a binder from her shoulder bag and tried to do the same thing. It was heavy. I dropped it. The binder’s contents—lined paper, neon Post-its, a package of metallic pens—spilled onto the road, causing an old woman thirty yards behind us to swerve to avoid them.
When the American ships arrived, they looked like giant white women swimming towards us on the horizon. American marines shouted orders from the crooks of the ships’ pale elbows, readied guns in the corner of vicious smiles. I was pushing Pablito’s stroller on el Malecón, and the people around me said, Look, what is that? But I knew. I had seen them before, decades ago in the first invasion.
* poetry by Kara Van De Graf from MQR 53:3, Summer 2014 *
From the grandmother of my grandmother, it lives
at the footboard of the bed, passed down to me
by my own mother. As a child, I traced
the blonde-wood petals of flowers, the garden
etched with dark walnut vines. And below,
near a lip of scrollwork, two narrow drawers kept
in check by a key. It was only when I slid
the drawers from their runners that I noticed